Brendan Cross making his own name at Wake Forest
By JOEDY McCREARY
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Brendan Cross is looking to finally make a name for himself at Wake Forest.
The son of ex-NFL offensive lineman and broadcaster Randy Cross continues to work his way back after injuries have limited him in recent years. Now fully healthy, he's entering preseason camp hoping to push for playing time at quarterback.
"Everyone wants to start. Everyone wants to be on the field, but it never kept me from working hard," the younger Cross said. "I guess the best thing I can say is (there's been) a little bit of frustration, but other than that, I'm happy with myself because I've prepared the way I needed to."
When Wake Forest holds its first practice Aug. 5, Cross will resume his battle for the starting job that has been the sole property of Tanner Price.
Those injuries have left Cross as a backup - and perhaps even a forgotten man - for the past two years.
Cross, a right-handed redshirt junior, says he "messed up my mechanics" when he hurt his right wrist during the spring of 2010. Then, came an injury to his left shoulder during a loss to Georgia Tech.
Those injuries "have been a huge education for him because he was never hurt before," Randy Cross said. "And he struggled with both of those that whole season and part of last year."
Cross saw action in just one game last year, completing his only pass for 9 yards against Gardner-Webb, but encouraged coach Jim Grobe with a strong spring. He spent part of the summer in Tampa, Fla., working with former NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg on speeding up his release and generating more velocity on his throws.
"He did a lot of good things, and if he continues to improve, especially throwing the football, then he'll be competitive for playing time," Grobe said. "Going into the spring, I don't think I would've told you that I thought we had a quarterback I felt comfortable winning with if we had to play him right away.
"But after the spring, I felt better about Brendan that, if something happened to Tanner, we might actually be able to win games with him. He'll have to continue to improve. He's not where he needs to be, but he looks like he's more comfortable throwing the football than he's been since he's been here."
Everybody seems to agree on one thing: Any playing time Brendan Cross receives will be earned - and not simply given to him because of who his famous father is.
Randy Cross played 13 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, reaching three Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls while blocking for Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.
"He learned a thing or two because he had a couple of good quarterbacks underneath him at center," Brendan Cross said.
The elder Cross, who moved into the broadcast booth in 1989, says he's aware of what he calls "helicopter dads on steroids in the media" and promises he'd never publicly lobby for his son because "that's more embarrassing for the kid than anything else." Brendan says his dad "emphasizes that it's all my doing - you've got to earn it."
In addition to his work analyzing NFL games for CBS, Randy Cross is a regular host on Sirius XM radio - and one of his on-air guests this summer was Grobe.
"It's an unusual situation to find two people in Brendan and Randy who are as positive as they are with as little success as Brendan's had up until now," Grobe said. "But the good news is, we see Brendan getting better, and that's because of his attitude."
Then, Grobe quipped: "I was kidding Randy, I said if you ever did get upset about me not playing Brendan more, then we'll move him to offensive guard and let him try it out for size."
Updated July 20, 2012